Here’s the next entry to the ‘And then…’ contest. Just reminding, I am not disclosing the author‘s name now so that we can have a fair voting. The write-ups would be posted in the order I receive them… Here are the rules & hints and here is The Scene…
That face that had haunted her all these years…an image from an old worn-out photograph that she had carried around in her heart. All these years, she had been waiting for yet dreading this day. She still didn’t know if she’d ever muster up the courage to say those words to him. Her eyes welled up with tears without any explanation. Dabbing her eyes with a tissue she quickly regained her composure and risked a glance again on pretext of looking for the air-hostess.
Those dark eyes, that square jaw and the kind smile were still the same. Yes, a few wrinkles here and there but there was no mistake-it was him. She had imagined this scene in her teenage years, rehearsed what she would say and what would happen. She had spent hours in front of the mirror in nervous excitement practicing and rephrasing what she would say when she met him. She’d hated every part of her that wanted to love him but couldn’t help it. The Kathak recitals, the piano lessons, the basketball matches-all came back to her.
Her monologue froze midway when he suddenly looked up at her. She felt like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar and smiled at him blushing furiously and he gave her a confused smile back. Was it her imagination or was there a fleeting hint of recognition on his face? But he went back to his Autocar and she leaned back and took a large swig of water and took a deep breath. It was now or never.
She turned again. “Pardon me if I’m wrong but are you Mr. Bryan D’Souza?”
He looked up blinking and removed his headphones and said, “I’m sorry I did not hear you. Could you repeat the question?”
“Mr. Bryan D’Souza?”
“I think you mistook me for someone else. I’m Shrey.”
“Sorry! I’m Liz. You looked a lot like an uncle of mine! I’m really sorry!”
“That’s okay. So I look that old eh?” he grinned, “It’s always nice to meet a fellow Indian here. You live in Sydney too?”
“No, I’m on vacation. I moved to Hong Kong two years back, before that I was in Delhi. “
“Hmmmmm…How I miss that city! The clean air and the fresh food stifle me in Sydney! I last went to Delhi five years back. A week there was like oxygen! I missed the chaat, the yum kababs and the DTC buses!” he remarked smiling.
And they talked – about the weather, Sydney, India, Indian food, cars, traffic in Delhi, her job, her crummy boss (he used to have one too!), music, movies…it went on and on! They got on like a house on fire! He loved Audi too and shared her opinion that Federer was a pain in the ass for winning all the time! It was like they had been destined to meet. As the flight prepared to land there was a knot in her stomach. The words remained unsaid. She had said everything but what she had actually wanted to.
Sydney arrived and as he waved and walked out of the airport, she stood there looking at him. The words came out in a whisper, “Hi dad.”
They came too late. Genetic maybe.